Opening the Made in Oregon store at Portland Airport

Growing up outside of Portland’s Japanese community Undergraduate studies interrupted following Pearl Harbor Difficulty getting work during World War II Starting an import business after World War II Opening the Made in Oregon store at Portland Airport

Transcripts available in the following languages:

I thought, “I’d sure like to have a shop in Portland Airport”, you know, a gift shop and so on. But there was a gift shop already there and so I couldn’t…they wouldn’t give me a space there to open up a shop. And then I had a…I made lots of contact with friends from here and one of the man was Punch Green [Alan “Punch” Green, 1925-2001], who was a commissioner of the port. So I go and talk to him and so on and told him how much and he said, “Well I can’t…you can’t open up a store there.” He had to control…the commissioners there had control of the different things that happen. So one of the things I said to them, all of a sudden got an idea. “How about I open up a store just selling Made in Oregon products?” “Oh,” he says, “But I don’t think there’s enough stuff made in Oregon to sell.” I said, “ I think I can find enough things.” So I got a very small shop there called Made in Oregon.

Where did I get the idea Made in Oregon? It was, like I said, “Made in Japan”, “Made in Hong Kong” and so on so I said, “Made in Oregon.” And that is when, you know, that is when he said he thought I could open up the store.

So I opened up the store at the airport. Now people don’t realize the heavy traffic that’s in the airport. And that’s what you have to have, I knew. Retailing, you gotta have traffic. You gotta have people coming. That’s why all our stores in malls so that people coming into mall will stop and so on because we are an impulse store. We call it impulse. Just buy things, just happen to go by and see something they like and so on. In other words, it’s not destination, where you’re going to go and get…buy some hardware, what you need for the house or something like that. You see what I mean? So from there, we did tremendous business. I mean then we got a bigger space and so on. And from there, we opened up stores in the malls.

Date: December 8, 2005
Location: Oregon, US
Interviewer: Akemi Kikumura Yano
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

made in oregon oregon retail

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